Medicine: How Nerves Work

Every muscular function of the human body is triggered by a small electrical current transmitted to the muscles through the nerves. Doctors have long assumed that a chemical reaction at the synapses (the junctions between nerves) causes the impulses to flow through the nerves until—through junction after junction—they reach the muscles. But the chemistry of impulse transmission along the nerve fibers was not known. Last week Colum bia University announced that Dr. David Nachmansohn and his colleagues in the university's Department of Neurology had found new evidence to support his 20-year-old theory of the biochemical reaction that lets a nerve carry...

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